Street life for squatters

BENEATH the filth, the squallor and the piles of rubbish at the notorious Banora Point caravan park lies the untold stories of dozens of people, many of whom feel they have nowhere else to go.

And at least 20 people, or squatters as they have often been called, will be turfed out onto the street as early as next week.

Some are battling addictions, others are just down on their luck. No matter how you feel about them, do not forget that there are still human beings living in what can only be described as "third world conditions". While most recognise they should not be there, the putrid park is the only place they can call home. One of the remaining few squatters, known only as Clare, lives in her car with her teenage son. She works two jobs but cannot find a place to call her own.

"This is home," Clare said. "We just can't get anywhere else to live.

"There are just so many people going for the same places. "I consider myself to be a good tenant, but we are basically discriminated against because we have lived at Banora Point caravan park."

Clare is not alone. A number of people, most of whom say they were tenants before being evicted when the park closed, returned after no other accommodation could be found. Many are now living in the abandoned, delapidated caravans.

While they do have running water and power, the surrounds are filthy, with empty alcohol containers, human waste, rotting rubbish and old furniture littering the park. And there is a distinct smell that clings to your clothes well after you leave.

Fiona, another "squatter", has applied for many rental properties, but no longer admits she lives at the park. "I think in a lot of ways the community has just blocked out the problems here," Fiona said.

"I'm actually amazed just how bad it has gotten here. It just went downhill so fast after (Warren) Tschannen (ex-park owner) took over.

"There are a lot of people here who have problems, but we get labelled and it makes it hard to get out."

Fiona says that despite the park looking like a war zone, the mostly abandoned site has been relatively trouble-free of late.

But according to park resident Norman Edmondson, at least six homeless people on any given night will walk through the front gates looking for a place to sleep.

Some people staying at the park have been fortunate enough to arrange alternative accommodation before the new owner takes a "broom" through the park.

At least one resident, known only as Darryl, will soon be moving in with his mother in Queensland.

Fiona, who says she is one of the luckier ones, will move to Sydney to live with family if she has to.

But for many others, their squalid sanctuary will soon be no more, and the prospect of living on the street is a very real possibility.

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